Archive for the ‘Nerdy Stuff’ Category

Computers Today - A Perspective.


February 14th

Remember when we landed a man on the moon on a rocket called Apollo?

The Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) that landed man on the moon had 36k of read-only memory and 2k of “ram”.

To put it in perspective.. here is a JPG photo of a kitten that is almost equivalent in file size to the entire computing power on the Apollo spaceship that landed man on the moon.

This file is 41k

This file is 41k

Think about that next time you complain your first gen iPhone 3G is only 16 gigabytes .. about 440,000 times more capacity than the computer that landed man on the moon.

Saying Goodbye - Letting Domain Names Expire


March 25th

There you are, minding your own business when you that one of those emails. You know the ones, from your domain registra reminding you about that domain name you registered last summer for that brilliant startup idea you had after a night out with your friends. You remember the passion, the inspiration, the alcohol, the entrepreneurial spirit and energy you possessed when you registered the domain last year.

And yet now, here it is 9 months later staring you in the face like a hungry child from an old relationship, asking you for money and attention. To renew or not to renew, that is the question. It’s a good idea, you tell yourself. So good in fact that nobody else in the last year has had the same idea.. it’s *that* niche. You don’t have the time, or the money, or the inspiration you had on that fateful night anymore though, and the more you think about it, the more you realise how much effort would be required to take your idea from drunken resolution, to startup and success.

So you let it expire. Oh God, you just let it go. All the while thinking that some other guy who is smarter, richer and more inspired than you will notice the amazing domain name that just fell back into the public pool, register it and make GAZILLIONS of dollars from it.

But that’s your fault isn’t it… you should have built that website while you had the chance! Oh well.. at least you’ve saved yourself years of pocket money squatting on a domain you’ll never use.

*sigh*

Hyper-Connective Technology, Feedback and Entropy.


March 10th

I’ve always said that the best technology is that which connects us. The history of the greatest technological innovations that have caused, and been caused by, the information age read like a biological evolutionary tree connecting us ever more closely over time:

- The Printing Press (1440)

- The Telegraph (1792)

- The Telephone (1876)

- The Radio (1895)

- Fax Data Transmission (1924)

- Internet & Email (1974)

- Instant Messaging (1980)

- Blogging (1997)

- Social Networks (Late 90’s)

- Mobile Devices (2000+)

Each one of these technologies builds on the one before it, and every single one has two things in common:

1. They are, or have been, widely adopted by a large % of the human population.

2. They all connect people.

Comparing them, it becomes clear that each “evolution” of the technology simply performs the same task as the last, but better. Either via speed, scope or quality the proceeding technology exceeds the limitations of the ones before it by taking advantage of the previous technology’s advancement.

Speculating on the future of our connective technology, and which technology will supersede (or build on) those we use now, one can imagine the proliferation of mobile devices and internet as a major factor in future technologies. Moreover, the rate at which we connect, and remain connected increased, and the depth and “quality” of this connection through media also increases. As bandwidth grows, video and augmented reality will become standard communication faculties, but another cultural phenomena is also at work. The Internet and Social networking has broadened the scope of our connective technology from mere one-to-one connections, to one-to-many and many-to-many. (1:1, 1:m, m:m) the impact of which is only just being realised as a cultural shift affecting our media, politics and interpersonal relationships.

As this occurs, I can’t help wondering whether such technology has an upper bounds, a ceiling, to which the advancement overtakes the social benefit. It might be hard to comprehend a world now without The Internet, Blogs and Mobile technology with the immense social and knowledge capital it has delivered, but it may be less difficult to imagine the detrimental impact of a hyper-connected world.

The disadvantages of such technology may be observed through the proliferation of violence, hate and misinformation that our connective technologies can disseminate just as quickly as efficiently as any other data across the network, but to suggest such negative-data is the basis for our hypothetical ceiling is naive, and wrong. All the technologies listed above have been used for violence, hate and misinformation and none of these things represent an upper-boundary for a technologies utility.

Such a boundary, if any, would develop via the “feedback” loop that is created by our hyper-connection. An example of this would be the way in which the internet’s content is indexed. Google’s search algorithm is designed to find, and share, information that is relevant and where possible - accurate. The algorithm was written to reverse-engineer us and our data. How we search and what we are looking for, and how we share. Google’s algorithm applies this methodology to our data and tries to give us what we want. It does this very well, and has been very successful for it.

Now that google is dominant however, a feedback loop exists. Content creators create content for google’s algorithm specifically, and a lot of data, comes from Google itself, and Wikipedia, a well ranked knowledge base. So data goes in, and out, and back in again. Like a photocopy of a photocopy, this is entropic by nature and eventually leads to chaos without external forces to balance this.

Our social data, and our new information is the balancing force. Fresh, relevant content - from our friends, our colleagues and our leaders, all provide inputs into the information ecosystem.

An interesting thing happened to me recently to illustrate the hyper-connected feedback loop. I connected my YouTube, to my Facebook and a handful of other participating, connectable websites. When I interacted with YouTube, this activity was shared to Facebook, and to my Twitter. Through some duplication glitch, my activity was echo’ed repeatedly and randomly over time. Friends would complain about this, which added to the meta-entropy data which continued to cycle through my networks ad infinitum until I took corrective action.

This small example perhaps highlights the beginning of the entropic overlap through hyper-connectivity. Users of Google Buzz are noticing this feedback too, with activity being shared, cross-linked, commented and duplicated over various networks causing some confusion, and some loss of control which manifests as a privacy issue.

Privacy, is the inevitable casually of the hyper-connected world, and the valid reason why many intelligent, rational members of society choose not to participate. As humans, we posses the innate capacity and desire for the shared human experience. As social animals is is natural for us to connect, strongly and emphatically. The limits of this capacity are only now being explored and is it this that will be the foundation of any upper-boundary.

I am reminded in this present state of technology by Douglas Adam’s fictional race from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, who gained the ability to read other’s minds when they weren’t talking out loud, and being suitably personally confronted by this, eventually spoke out loud constantly thereafter, becoming one of the most chatty species in the Galaxy.

I am optimistic however, that we will recognise the potential for feedback and entropy that our hyper-connected world creates, and that our future technology will address and transcend these limitations, perhaps becoming the foundation of the next “age” once information itself reaches it’s cultural and technology apex.

- Dylan O’Donnell B.IT

Australia - Your Internet is Already Being Filtered


December 20th

Earlier this week, the Australian government’s Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Stephen Conroy announced the the filtering trials were a success, and that the government would push forward with mandatory internet filtering, forcing all ISPs to filter a government controlled blacklist of websites.

On Thursday, an IT colleague of mine registered stephenconroy.com.au on which he setup a simple anti-censorship website deriding the governments actions, linking to news articles and calling for community support (of which there is quite a lot). Shortly afterwards, the Sydney Morning Herald got wind of the “prank” and published the link in a topical article about the proposed filter. He has also been approached by supportive law experts, journalists and the community at large.

On Friday afternoon, AUDA’s (Australia’s Domain Authority) CEO personally issued my colleague with a policy challenge (presumably instigated by Stephen Conroy’s office), and took the domain offline in 3 hours. The speed of this takedown is remarkable, even by DMCA-USA standards. Their own policy documents describe a 20-day dispute resolution process.

A similar takedown happened in 2006 when then Prime Minister ordered the shutdown of another critical website. In recent polls upwards of 95% of Australians are against internet filtering, so why are we sitting around like lambs to the slaughter while our citizens voices are being SILENCED by our government(s)? This takedown action is precedented, totalitarian, and completely repugnant.

Stephenconroy.com.au is currently being hosted at http://stephen-conroy.com/. Visit for news, updates and grassroots action.

The Official Note Trainer Promo / Demo Video


April 29th